The next morning, which was Saturday, Renzo rose early, an hour before sunup. He felt as he usually did: a little stiff, a little creaky, a little groggy. Today, like every other day, all those early morning discomforts lined his muscles and joints, but today he was excited as well: excited to see what changes the sunrise would bring. He dragged an armchair in front of a full-length mirror and sat down to watch.
As the first light began to glow from behind the horizon, nothing happened. He looked at his watch; still a half hour to sunrise. He turned off the lamp and stared with growing excitement into the mirror. The half-hour passed with incredible limping slowness until suddenly a beam of white light broke from the horizon and struck the mirror.
Renzo gasped as a wave rippled through his body, supercharging his muscles. Involuntarily he clutched his groin and felt it tighten under his hands. His legs were changing, and so were his arms. He had a generally sensation of TIGHTENING, of muscles and flesh firming up. Sand seemed to flow from his back, and he realized how much pain he'd been living with as it broke up and melted away, leaving suppleness behind. Knots untied themselves throughout his body. Tiny hard nodes dissolved with electrical twinges of pleasure-filled pain. His stomach growled like a tiger, and his blood, now rich, pure, and red, coursed through muscles, brain, and bone. He could feel it. "My juices are flowing!" Renzo shouted, barely knowing he spoke. A thousand changes took place at once, creating a new, younger, suppler man in place of the old, faded, jaded wreck. His skin tingled and crawled as dry old cells became new again. He rose to his feet and was nearly dizzy with the sensation of being taller, lighter, and more compact.
He saw himself laughing, running his hands through his new thick, rich hair. The hair was purer, lighter, and softer to his touch. His eyes were brighter and sharper. His vision was crisper, seizing with crystal clarity on every facet, every nook and cranny of his room. His mouth, his jaw twitched with movement, and he confirmed the sensations in the mirror: lost teeth had returned; fillings and crowns gave way to pristine enamel. His tongue was a clear, healthy pink. The gap he usually filled with a bridge was gone.
"Was I so old?" Renzo asked himself, radiating like a sun in his new sense of perfect well-being and power. He smacked his palms together loudly. "I was so full of aches and pains and now they are all gone."
As he studied his new fresh complexion, Renzo saw something from the corner of his eye: On the bureau there was a stack of money three inches high. As he walked over to take it, his mouth open, he felt his scalp come alive in a frightening way. A thousand electric needles seemed to strike his head as new hair filled in all the places where previously it had failed. His hair line rode down his forehead and temples. The bald spot at the back of his head was now buried beneath fresh, thick, healthy hair. Next, the electric-needles sensation repeated in the area around his mouth, and a trim goatee sprouted around his lips and chin. "That's right," he thought, "ten years ago I look liked this."
Renzo whirled and jumped around the room in a crazy dance of joy. Strength, youth, health, hair, sexual power - it had all come back in one magical, wonderful moment.
"Oh Lord, oh Lord," he repeated over and over as he ran his hands over his new young body, and fell back upon his bed, laughing and crying at the same time.
After luxuriating in the shower, Renzo emerged wearing only a bathrobe. He went into the kitchen and picked up an empty mineral-water bottle. He still had it in his hands as he passed a window and saw the man who lived across the hall driving off. Renzo looked down at the bottle and thought for a moment about the gift he'd requested.
Still in his robe, he went into the hall and knocked on the door opposite. The wife of the man who'd just driven off opened it and as she greeted him, her eyes involuntarily moved up and down his body. Renzo cleared his throat. "I was wondering," he said, "if you've got a bottle of water I could borrow. I'm all out."
It was lame, but it was all that came to him. She invited him in, and he saw the uncertainty in her manner. She kept glancing toward his legs, so he lifted open his robe. "Oh, my," she said smiling, and soon they were both naked and hard at work on the living room floor.
When he left her apartment, still holding the empty bottle, he saw that he'd left his apartment door open. The landlady was inside, poking through his things. When she saw him, she looked up startled and guilty. "I saw the door open and thought something was wrong," she said. "I called you, but there was no answer."
"That's all right," he said, smiling as he closed the door behind him. "There was something I wanted to show you anyway."
"Oh my," she said. Her eyes nearly popped from their sockets.
Later, after another shower, he dressed and left the building. He decided to try the stupidest pickup line he could think of on the very first attractive woman he saw. One thing that surprised him as he walked along was how good he felt. It was not only the return of youth, but also the fact that having had sex twice in the past hour hadn't tired him in the least. He still felt randy, ready to go. The sensation of walking itself was incredibly sensual: his feet felt so different, so aligned, so alive. Renzo felt like a cat on the prowl.
After he'd walked four blocks he saw a policewoman from behind. She was bending to place a ticket on a windsheild, and her posterior was very well formed. Her hair was a bush of yellow blonde curls. "If she's got a nice face," Renzo told himself, "I'm going to proposition her."
She had, in fact, a beautiful face, so Renzo put his hands on the car and asked if she wanted to frisk him. She laughed naughtily and wagged her finger at him. "Perhaps I'd better," she said. She came up behind him and pressed her breasts into his back and her pelvic bone into his butt. She slid her hands slowly over his arms and chest, then backed off enough to run her hands down his back to his buttocks, which she patted down throughly. Then she slid her hands around front, exclaimed softly, "Oh, my!" and soon they were parked behind an abandoned building, bent over the back of the police car.
The day continued in the same fashion, with trists in strange places and women unable to say no to him. At every encounter, Renzo grew bolder.
Later, in the afternoon Renzo was walking through the park, smiling. He was musing over what the devil had said about how he couldn't get into trouble. Why not give it a test? He saw an old woman sitting on a park bench and walked up next to her. Without saying a word he unzipped his pants and pulled out his semi-erect penis. The old woman looked at it with admiration, took it in her hand and said, "Bello! Proprio bello!"
Two young women were walking towards the scene, college textbooks in their arms. They both had long, straight, flowing hair and large breasts. Renzo released himself from the old woman's fond grasp and turned to expose himself to the two women. "Do you like what you see?" he asked. They giggled and blushed, but stopped walking so they could look at him. "Would you mind showing me your breasts?" he asked. They awkwardly piled their books on the bench and lifted up their blouses for him to see.
Near the end of the day, he felt sure enough of his charm that he had sex with a woman in a crowded subway car, but no one seemed to find it a problem.
He returned to his apartment at sundown. Renzo climbed the stairs as the sun dropped below the horizon. With each step Renzo grew heavier, older, slower, and sadder. His goatee withdrew into his face, his teeth returned to their former state, his hair thinned, and aches and stiffness crept into every bone and muscle. Until that moment, Renzo had never known how far he'd let himself go. "How old and broken down I am!" he said to himself. "What a miserable wreck of a man!"
When he reached the top of the stairs, he passed the woman from across the hall. She nodded to him in the same way that she'd nodded to him yesterday and the day before and the day before that. She remembered nothing of their morning's passion.
Renzo's heart ached. Fumbling clumsily, he barely managed to get inside his apartment and close the door before he broke into tears. Lung-shaking sobs brought him to his knees. He wept for a full ten minutes, then rose, wiped his cheeks and nose, and addressed himself in the mirror. "Whatever he wants," he said, "I'll do it. I'll do it! By God, I can't live like this, I have to..."
He abruptly sobbed, then just as abruptly laughed. He smiled at his old reflection, a sly smile with a secret.
Renzo was hooked.